Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC Dental Hygiene alum finds healthy success in Austin

(HARLINGEN) – Early on, James Cho knew that his calling was in the dental field so when he found the Dental Hygiene program at Texas State Technical College he knew it was the place for him, although there was one major challenge during the program that almost destroyed his dream.

The South Korean native was working as a dental assistant in Brownsville, after completing an online dental assistant certification program, but he wanted more.

“After working as a dental assistant for five years, and observing the duties and the care the dental hygienists and the dentists provided to their patients, I knew I wanted to do that too,” said Cho.

James Cho TSTC Dental Hygiene Alum

So after he began researching programs and realized the time it took to be a dentist was not in his cards, he chose the next best thing, TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program, the only program of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley.

“TSTC had exactly what I was looking for. The college was in my own backyard. A short 20-minute drive,” said Cho. “And their application and acceptance process was fair and square. Whether I passed my entrance exam or not was up to me. Everything was in my hands.”

The 39-year-old ended up being one of the highest scoring applicants who got accepted into the two-year program and earned his associate degree in 2017, with a 3.75 GPA and a job offer in hand.

But, this wasn’t almost the case.

While in the program, Cho went through a difficult divorce and became a single parent, which he says was disheartening and depressing.

“I started to lash out at classmates and people I cared about,” he said. “I made poor choices during this time that could have affected my future. It was tough to finish, but I hung on and made it through. I was given a second chance.”

Cho now works as the area dental hygienist with Brident Dental and Orthodontics in Austin, in charge of all three clinics in the area.

He made the move to Austin with his now 14-year-old daughter to have more opportunities to choose from and take advantage of the higher salaries outside of the Rio Grande Valley.

“I get to work alongside a wide range of team members and visit a different office pretty much every day. It’s refreshing,” said Cho. “I love what I do and actually look forward to going to work. I must say, I am very thankful and privileged to have such a career because of TSTC.”

As a hygienist, Cho is a patient’s key educator about oral health. He treats patients who are diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontal disease, coaches on nutrition, plaque control and overall oral health and delivers professional whitening services.

“I’m constantly striving to deliver the best quality of care to all of my patients,” he said. “And delivering the highest level of oral health care.”

Cho said what he has become today is the product of the experiences he had during his time in the dental hygiene program.

James Cho TSTC Dental Hygiene Alum

“The two years I spent at TSTC and in the program were the most unforgettable phases of my life,” said Cho. “The faculty and staff are incredible. They truly care about us as their students and our training, they strive to see us succeed and see the best in all of us.”

Cho added, “Had it not been for my instructors who realized my leadership qualities and gave me a second chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have become a more humble, thankful, caring, kind and helpful person, thanks to them.”

So, what’s in Cho’s future?

He will be starting classes soon to become certified as an orofacial myofunctional therapist, to help patients overcome disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth.

“My goal is to never stop learning. I will keep improving my skills and making myself more valuable to those I work with and for my patients,” said Cho. “And it all started at TSTC.”

For more information on TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program or the services offered at the TSTC Dental Hygiene Clinic, call 956-364-4696.


TSTC Pathways opens doors for local high school students

(HARLINGEN) – La Feria High School graduates and best friends Juan Buenrostro, 18, and Richard Alfaro, 19, recently completed the Texas State Technical College Auto Collision Technology Pathway through TSTC’s Dual Enrollment program and were the first ever to be recognized for this achievement.

“It was a really proud moment for my family and me,” said Buenrostro. “It’s always a great thing when you’re recognized for your hard work.”

His best friend shared the same sentiment.

“Sharing this moment with my best friend and family was the greatest,” said Alfaro. “I was very surprised, I didn’t expect to be recognized. I had never gotten anything like this before.”

Both men, who completed the career pathway – a series of courses toward a program degree –  while still high school seniors, were awarded a certificate and medallion at their high school’s fifth annual La Feria Certification Celebration Night.

“Juan and Richard were excited about the medal they received for completing this pathway,” said La Feria High School Career and Technical Education Secondary Coordinator Veronica Torres. “We are very proud of the determination and effort of these two students and we are looking forward to opening the doors of opportunity to many more students.”La Feria High School TSTC Pathway Grads

TSTC Dual Enrollment Advisor Sarai Duran said the pathways are a recent initiative and have only been in the works for the past couple of years, but the dual enrollment program, in which high school students complete college courses and receive credit, has been in place for several years.

Students can choose from 13 pathways to enroll in and complete ranging from Wind Energy Technology and Business Management Technology to Culinary Arts, Machining and Welding; and four online pathways: Medical Office Specialist, Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology, Digital Media Design and Cyber Security.

“These pathways allow students to get a head start on college and work toward a certificate or degree and a career before leaving high school,” said Duran. “So it’s definitely a good thing when we recognize them for their hard work.”

TSTC is partnered with school districts from across the Rio Grande Valley, serving students from Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties.

In fact this last school year, 15 students from San Benito Consolidated Independent School District completed the Education and Training Pathway, while four students from the Pharr, San Juan and Alamo Independent School district completed the Agricultural Technology pathway and four more students from the McAllen Independent School District completed Auto Collision Technology.

School districts like La Feria, cover the program cost, supplies and books. The classes are free for students.

“By completing a dual enrollment pathway, students and their families not only save time, but also money,” said Duran.

Each pathway is worth 12-14 credit hours, allowing a student to complete one semester of college even before graduating from high school.

“The dual enrollment opportunity with TSTC opens the doors for so many students who may not feel qualified to a post-secondary education,” said Torres. “But this collaboration provides the students with the opportunity to gain the confidence that all students have a chance to succeed.”

Buenrostro and Alfaro are already planning to return to TSTC Fall 2018.

Buenrostro plans on enrolling in Auto Collision Technology to pursue an associate degree, while Alfaro plans on registering to earn a certificate in auto collision and an associate degree in Welding.

“TSTC was a great experience for me. I was shy at first, but it helped me break out of my shell,” said Buenrostro. “It was completely different from high school, but now I’m more confident in myself and excited that I have a career I’m working toward and that I enjoy.”

Alfaro added, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, but after completing this pathway I have a plan and have been exposed to so many career options in my field. I really enjoyed my time at TSTC and I’m excited to return.”

For more information on TSTC’s Dual Enrollment Pathways and the programs offered, call 956-364-4165.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Anahi Reyes Student Success ProfileAnahi Reyes is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College. She holds a 3.0 grade-point average and hopes to earn her associate degree in Spring 2020.

When the 19-year-old Harlingen native is not studying or volunteering on campus, she is teaching Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes at a local Catholic church, Queen of Peace.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate from TSTC, I plan on transferring to Texas A&M-Kingsville to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to become an early childhood or elementary teacher. Teaching has always been a passion of mine. Even when I was small and I played school with my friends, I HAD to be the teacher.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far was finishing my first year of college with a decent GPA, but I know there is more success to come.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The lesson I have learned is that to get what you want and to achieve your goals you have to study and work hard. Nothing worth having comes easy.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

The person who has had the most influence on my success is my Speech Instructor Juanita Amiel Townsend. She has taught me to be more confident in myself and how to calm my nerves when speaking in front of large audiences. I’ve taken her advice and used it in other classes and it is especially important to keep in mind since I want to be a teacher.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to keep an open line of communication with their instructors. All of the instructors I have encountered truly care about their students and are involved in making sure they succeed. They work with you.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Alex Castillo Student Success ProfileTexas State Technical College student Alex Castillo, 19, is completing his Academic Core and expects to finish Spring 2020.

The San Benito native is also an active member of the TSTC Intramural Sports Club and works part-time with his father doing air conditioning and plumbing contract work.

Although he enjoys working with his father, Castillo said his passion is in teaching and coaching.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I complete my Academic Core I will return to TSTC to pursue an associate degree in Education and Training and eventually will pursue a bachelor’s degree in teaching specializing in special education.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a special education teacher and a coach for football and track. As long as I’m helping people, that’s all that matters to me and as a teacher I’ll be able to do that.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been getting involved on campus and interacting with people. I’ve always been shy, but doing this has helped me engage with other people on campus and around the community.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is that life is always going to be filled with choices, but it’s up to us on which road we choose and how we decide to handle situations. No one else can make that decision for us.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

The person who has had the most influence on my success is TSTC Intramural Program Coordinator Joe Garza, a.k.a coach. He is the person who has encouraged my involvement on campus and in the Intramural Sports Club. He has also pushed me out of my comfort zone in helping coach intramural sports. He is a great motivator.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to enjoy every moment of your college experience. TSTC gives students so many opportunities in and out of the classroom. Your college experience is what you make of it.

TSTC Alum sets example for others

(HARLINGEN) – It was only three years ago when Jessica Pecina graduated with her associate degree in Health Information Technology from Texas State Technical College; a degree she never expected to get until she had to set a positive example.

This was the second time around at TSTC for the 39-year-old who is now a surveillance specialist with the Department of State Health Services in Harlingen and travels from Laredo to Corpus Christi monitoring birth defects and epidemiology, which is the study and analysis of the distribution and causes of disease.

She first graduated from TSTC with a certificate in nursing assistant and phlebotomy in 2000.

“I was a teen mom so when I graduated from high school, TSTC was the best choice for me,” she said. “It was affordable, close to home and a way for me to get a college education that would later help me support my family.”

The Harlingen native ended up working for Valley Baptist Medical Center for a little more than a decade before moving to a local home health care agency where she began handling and managing medical records as supervisor.Jessica Pecina Health Information Technology Alum

“I’m the type of person who wants to do things right if I’m going to do them,” she said. “So having no medical record experience wasn’t sitting right with me. So I said, ‘Why not, let me go back to school.’”

Pecina said the timing could not have been better, because it was also during this period that Pecina’s daughter, now 24, graduated high school and immediately found out she was pregnant.

“This was also my chance to show my daughter, that no matter the circumstances, even as a teen mom, going to college was a possibility,” she said. “Being mom should never stop you from following your dreams.”

So while working full-time, the mother of two and grandmother enrolled in Health Information Technology as a full-time student.

“TSTC opened my eyes to the bigger picture of my profession,” said Pecina. “And since I was already working in the profession, the program helped me better understand the rules, laws and regulations I needed to be following.”

Pecina added that the support from faculty and staff and training she received at TSTC was invaluable for her success, especially as a parent.

“Everyone I ever encountered was so helpful and understanding. It was the faculty and staff that helped us all make it through the program” she said. “Lessons and training were thorough and gave us the foundation we needed to begin a ‘successful’ career in the field. Everything I do in the field is what I learned in the classroom.”

She recognizes Health Information Technology instructor Ana Gonzalez as one of her best mentors.

“Ana is so welcoming and helpful toward everyone. She understand that life happens and we face challenges as students so she is always there to support us, offer advice and help us in any way she can, even after we graduate,” said Pecina.

Pecina is now pursuing an online bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati in Health Information Management and sits on the TSTC Health Information Management advisory committee.

She also hopes to pursue a master’s degree in health informatics.

“I recommend anyone who is looking for a college or to change careers to check out TSTC,” said Pecina. “TSTC has helped me find a career that supports my family and has helped me grow. It has changed my life for the better.”

Health Information Technology is offered at TSTC’s Harlingen and Abilene campuses and is also offered 100 percent online.

For more information on the program, visit

TSTC Dental Hygiene celebrates perfect pass rate

(HARLINGEN) – The Texas State Technical College Dental Hygiene class of Spring 2018 recently received official Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) exam scores and have achieved a 100 percent pass rate for the third consecutive year.

“We are so excited and so proud of our students,” said TSTC Dental Hygiene Program Director Raquel Rico. “Everyone has worked really hard to make this achievement possible.”

TSTC Dental Hygiene Class of 2018

WREB is one of three exams that graduates from the dental hygiene program are required to pass to receive a license in the profession and be able to practice as a dental hygienist.

In addition to the clinical board exam (WREB), graduates must also pass the National Dental Hygiene Examination Board and the Texas State Governance Jurisprudence Exam.

Judith Cano, one of the 25 students from the Spring 2018 dental hygiene graduating class, is already working as a hygienist for The Smile Shop in Pharr and Mission and said she was excited to learn she and her classmates had passed their clinical board exam, receiving their golden slips.

“This just goes to show that all of our hard work has finally paid off,” said Cano. “I’m so happy and excited for all of us.”

Cano, mother of a six-year-old son and former president of her class’ dental hygiene club, also said that she owes her success to her parents who migrated from Mexico City.

“My mom and dad have been so supportive of everything I do. They believe in me 100 percent and without them I wouldn’t be where I am at,” said Cano. “They migrated to the U.S. to give us a better life and they definitely did that.”

Cano added that it is the hands-on training they received in class and at the TSTC Dental Hygiene Clinic, which provides low-cost dental services to the community, TSTC’s interview practicum and the mock board exams that made all of the difference.

Dental hygiene grad Judith Cano

Dental Hygiene Instructor Vicki Martin said they spend the last two semesters of the two-year program conducting mock clinical board exams following the same process students would experience during the actual exam.

As they do for the actual clinical board exam, the students select a person who is willing to volunteer as a patient, instructors approve the students’ patient selection and then perform and note every dental procedure completed by the student.

“As faculty, we are dedicated to making sure that we prepare our students the best way we can for their exams,” said Martin. “We don’t want there to be any surprises for them. We find this relieves a lot of their testing anxiety and that in turn allows them to do better.”

Rico said that mock board exams are a rare thing for dental hygiene programs to offer and that being the only program in the Rio Grande Valley, they felt this was an important service to offer its students.

“Our goal is to produce highly-skilled hygienists who are compassionate, provide the best patient care and always have the best interest of their patients in mind,” said Rico.

It is this that Rico said has put TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program on the map as the sixth best dental hygiene program in Texas , according to a list compiled by

“This is great recognition for our program. It gives us visibility and helps us encourage future hygienists to check out our program,” said Rico. “We hope to continue growing and welcoming students from across the state.”

With the demand for dental hygienists growing and the job outlook increasing by nearly 20 percent, faster than the average of other occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Rico said TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program is ready to help meet the demand.

For more information on TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program or TSTC’s Dental Hygiene Clinic call 956-364-4696 or visit


Student Success Profile – Jasmine Munoz

(HARLINGEN) – Jasmine Munoz Jasmine Munoz is completing her Academic Core at Texas State Technical College expects to finish in Summer 2019. She also boasts a 3.5 grade-point average.

The 19-year-old Harlingen native is also active on campus and her community. She is a member of the TSTC Service Squad and Action South Texas, a civic organization that focuses on voter registration and increasing voter turnout.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I want to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism with a minor in political science.

What’s your dream job?

I want to be the next Christiane Amanpour and tell stories from the trenches. I want to shed light on politics and other controversial issues and be a voice for those who don’t have one.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been able to take everything I have learned in my classes and apply it in the real-world. Everything I have learned, done and am doing has helped me form my own perspectives and opinions and helped me figure out my purpose.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to appreciate everything you have. I didn’t grow up with a lot, there were times we didn’t even have a place to call home, but getting an education and volunteering has put my life into perspective.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

The person who has had the most influence on my success is Elizabeth Bryant, TSTC Government instructor. She not only teaches her students, but she shares her experiences with us also. Her door is always open and she is a great mentor and advisor.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to meet the people around you, to get involved and to help your campus and community.

TSTC receives TWC job training grant

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College in partnership with a Manufacturing Consortium, including PRISM Plastics Inc., a plastics injection molding service, and Saint-Gobain Abrasives Inc., an abrasives manufacturing company, recently received a $197,253 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

“Because of this training we have seen an increase in productivity because of an increase of skills,” said PRISM Plastics Inc. Human Resources Director Rosie Hernandez. “We thank TSTC, TWC for everything they have done and for our continued partnership.”

With this grant, TSTC has been able to provide custom training to more than 100 employees from PRISM Plastics Inc. in Harlingen and Saint-Gobain Abrasives Inc. in Brownsville.

TSTC, TWC Skills Development Fund grant

Training has consisted of industry-related topics such as programmable logic controls, hazardous materials and motor theory.

“This is great news for our employees,” said Saint-Gobain Abrasives Inc. Human Resources Director Kip Patterson. “With continual changes in industry and technology moving forward it takes a higher skill set to operate our machines, so being able to train our employees and keep them up to speed is amazing.”

Employees that benefit from this skills development fund grant include industrial engineers, computer numerical control (CNC) operators, mechanical drafters and electronics repair and waste technicians.

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez presented the check to TSTC. He represents nearly 13.9 million working Texans and said it is institutions like TSTC that are working together to make the Texas workforce stronger.

“The unemployment rate in Texas is dropping because of places like TSTC,” said Alvarez. “It is this type of training that allows us to talk about careers, not only jobs.”

Alvarez added that this particular grant has a $274,000 economic impact and upon completion of the training, the workers will receive no less than an average hourly rate of $16.76.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell congratulated TSTC, TSTC Regent Alex Meade, who was at the event representing the college’s Board of Regents, and the TWC on the work they do to provide first-class training to companies and their employees across the Rio Grande Valley.

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez

“There is an increased need for trained skilled workers and this partnership allows me to tell incoming industries that they have the resources they need close by at TSTC, and that it is this training that is opening economic doors in the Rio Grande Valley across the state,” said Boswell.

TSTC Senior Executive Director of Workforce Development Loree Scott thanked her team and industry partners for making this grant a huge success.

“My team deserves to be recognized for all of the hard work that goes into making this grant possible and developing the customized training that is required,” said Scott. “And thank you to the companies that trust us with their training and for the ongoing partnerships.”

For more information on the services offered by TSTC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education, call 956-364-4567.

TSTC auto body students presented scholarship, tool grants

(HARLINGEN) – For the first time, every Texas State Technical College Auto Collision and Management Technology student in Harlingen that applied for a scholarship or tool grant from the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) Education Foundation and 3M were selected as recipients.

A total of four Auto Collision and Management Technology students received a Sears Vo-Tech Tool Grant, a 3M Hire Our Heroes Tool Grant or a Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Foundation scholarship.  

“These scholarships and grants are awarded every year and we encourage as many of our students who are interested to apply,” said Joseph Cantu, TSTC auto collision and management instructor. “And this year’s selection is especially exciting for us because everyone who applied received something.”

Auto collision and management student Adrian Escamilla was awarded a $5,000 scholarship to be used for tuition, room and board, b

ooks, tools or safety equipment, made possible by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Foundation which supports the I-CAR Collision Repair Education Foundation.

“I applied about three months ago and since I hadn’t heard anything I had written off the scholarship,” said Escamilla. “So I was totally shocked to learn that I had been awarded the money.”

Escamilla said this is not only a load off of his shoulders, but also his mother’s, who helps him pay for college, since he has to pay out of pocket.

“This money is a big help for my mom and I and a step toward making my dreams come true,” said Escamilla.

Once Escamilla graduates with his associate degree next semester, he said he wants to work to gain experience and eventually open his own body shop.

Christopher Valdez, a United States Army veteran, received a 3M Hire Our Heroes Tool Grant valued at $4,500 and focused on helping veterans who are interested in pursuing a new career in the auto body industry.

He will receive an initial $1,500 in tools as a student and the additional $3,000 after he graduates this summer with his certificate and finds employment in the industry.

“These awards were not expected; it’s exciting news to get the help I need to purchase the tools that are required if I want to be successful,” said Valdez.

TSTC 3M Veteran Hire Our Heroes Recipient

The husband and father of two served in the Army for 15 years and completed four tours in Iraq. When he was medically discharged in February 2017, he enrolled at TSTC to work at realizing his dream of owning a golf cart business.

“As a soldier for so long it’s hard returning to civilian life, but TSTC and its instructors have been so supportive and motivating,” said Valdez. “And now these grants are a good sign for my future and a financial relief for my family and me.”

3M Sales Representative for South Texas Fernando de la Garza also presented Valdez with a flag designed by Chip Foose, American automobile designer and star of the reality television series ‘Overhaulin’.

A Sears Vo-Tech Tool Grant for a Sears tool kit valued at $150 was also awarded to Escamilla and Valdez, in addition to Daniel Gaitan and Benjamin Soto.

All men agree that they are thankful and owe a lot to the I-CAR Education Foundation, 3M, PPG and Sears for selecting them for scholarships and grants that will make a difference in their education and careers.

For more information on Auto Collision and Management Technology in Harlingen and Waco, visit

TSTC training to help fill nursing shortage

(HARLINGEN) – The Texas State Technical College nursing division in Harlingen is celebrating its second consecutive 100 percent national exam pass rate for its vocational nursing program, a mark of distinction for the department that is working to relieve a shortage of nurses in the Rio Grande Valley and across the state.

“We hold all of our students to a high standard,” said Heather Sauceda, TSTC vocational nursing program director. “Here at TSTC we produce skilled, competent and compassionate nurses who we can trust in the field to fill the gap in patient care.”

For a vocational nursing graduate to become licensed as an LVN, he or she must first pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which gives them the right to practice nursing in the state.TSTC Nursing Students

Last year, to give its vocational nursing graduates and current LVN licensees more opportunity and because nurses are in high demand, TSTC introduced an Associate of Applied Science licensed vocational nursing (LVN) to registered nursing (RN) transition degree.

According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas will see continued demand for registered nurses through 2030.

Additionally, Texas is the highest employer of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among the contributing factors to the rising need for nurses are an increase in demand for health care services, an aging population, an increase of chronic disease, new patient-centered medical homes and health centers, and nursing personnel who are nearing retirement.

Harlingen Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Amy Flores oversees more than 200 nurses, with a large of number of them, she says, retiring within the next five to 10 years.

“The future is bright for nursing right now. We’re going to be scrambling to find enough (nurses) soon,” she said. “And it’s important now, more than ever, that we have more colleges and qualified staff to train new nurses.”

Jean Lashbrook, TSTC’s statewide nursing division director, said that the approval in 2017 for a new registered nursing program at TSTC’s Harlingen campus has allowed them to train more students pursuing the field.

“We started with a cohort of 30 students in Fall 2017, but after three years we plan on increasing the number of students accepted, along with increasing faculty,” she said.

The first cohort will be graduating this summer.

Lashbrook also added that the registered nursing program at TSTC’s Breckenridge and Sweetwater campuses in West Texas is increasing its number of students and graduates.

“In West Texas we’re increasing our numbers by branching out in local communities for clinical experience for students, which gives our program more visibility in the surrounding area,” said Lashbrook.

Vocational and registered nursing students at TSTC have the opportunity to learn and practice simulation exercises in state-of-the-art labs.

“The training we provide allows our students to practice real-world scenarios they will encounter,” said Sauceda. “This helps reduce their anxiety, which in turn allows them to provide the best patient care possible.”

Flores, who has worked with TSTC nursing students completing their clinical hours, has found their skills to be above average.

“They are professional, prepared for clinicals and have good instructors that monitor their progress,” Flores said. “We have found in the past with other programs that students did not come with all the necessary skills and had to be followed closely,” she said.TSTC Nursing Student in Classroom

TSTC’s objective and focus is to produce highly skilled nurses who are compassionate, committed to their career, can think critically, multitask and have good time management, which is the type of nurses that Harlingen Medical Center and many others across the state are looking for.

“Acuity (intensity of care required by a patient) in hospitals has been rising rapidly due to an average decline in length of stay because of new technology that allows rapid assessment, treatment and discharge,” said Flores. “Hospitals are now also becoming large intensive care units, with cardiac monitoring, respiratory assistance and intense treatment, so skilled and specialized nurses are in great demand.”

Hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley have licensed vocational nursing and registered nursing positions posted on their websites. Harlingen Medical Center and Valley Baptist Health System in Cameron County have nearly 80 available positions combined, while Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and South Texas Health System in Hidalgo County, combined, have more than 100.

“There is no lack of positions in our field,” said Sauceda. “And our goal is not only to prepare our students for a career in nursing, but also to get them ready to take their education a step further.”

Sauceda added that the TSTC nursing division team has also been visiting local high schools to plant the seeds of a career in healthcare early.

“These teens and young adults are the people who will be taking care of us all someday,” she said. “It’s our job to encourage them, and because of the demand, there will be many doors of opportunity open to help them climb the ladder.”

TSTC’s Breckenridge and Sweetwater campuses also offer a certificate in vocational nursing or an associate degree in nursing.

For more information on TSTC’s nursing programs or about upcoming information sessions, call 956-364-4762.